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Andes & Amazon "A" Semester, Spring 2013


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Sir Ken Robinson's "Changing Educational Paradigms" was much about what the title would imply, but I enjoyed his talk because of how poignantly it described a problem that most of us don't even notice. He starts by describing a problem of every parent, a challenge to educate his or her children toward successful positions in an economy that can't be predicted even a week in advance. The second problem for these parents is to also educate their children toward an understanding of their cultural identity so they are, or at least seem to be, a unique quantity in a society continually shifted toward homogeneity.  
He revises the old paradigm of "success in secondary school leads to college which leads to a good job" with a 21st century caveat: with a constantly changing economy, that paradigm may not be true anymore. Along with this, he attacks a mode of thinking which has subtly been ingrained in our society since the Enlightenment period, one that divides people into either academic or non-academic groups. Smart people or not smart people. He argues that this division only creates casualties in a specific system, that it is the system that creates people who are judged as smart by a set of arbitrary standards, and consequently creates people who are judged as dumb, also arbitrarily.  
He thinks the system is in place because it both reflects and benefits a economic climate of industrialization. He alikens schools to factories, churning out standardized products, run through the strainer of standardized testing and curricula. He raises a good question: why do we educate students in groups by age? Why do we assume the best way to educate students is to group them by birthdate? Mr. Robinsons thinks that conformity is both the root cause and goal of the public education system, and this conformity overshadows what should be the goal of actual learning.
He thinks that education should teach students to think outside of the box, to see outside of the set of rules that society imposes upon itself; he calls this type of thinking "Divergent Thinking," or the ability to see multiple answers or outcomes. He argues that as people grow older their ability to think divergently gets worse, and he thinks that the cause for this decline is because they have become "educated," constantly hearing that "there is only one answer" and its at the back of the book.
I agree with most of what was said in the video, and I think it is important for Sir Ken Robinson to point out an issue that is so large that we often fail to see it. However, I think the public education system currently does not have the capacity to educate students as he would hope: individually to each student's specific learning style and needs, in hopes of fostering a unique student. Also, I think that Sir Robinson argues that education should be more about divergent thinking, and he implies that this should come at the expense of much standarized curricula (i.e. any part of math, science and the humanities that is no longer deemed "relevant" to our developing society). I think there is still value in certain realms of education that aren't directly relevant to solving world hunger, developing wonder drugs or inventing a more equalized financial system.

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Andes & Amazon "A" Semester, Spring 2013

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Response to Sir Ken Robinson’s “Changing Educational Paradigms”

Jack Kessler,Andes & Amazon "A" Semester, Spring 2013

Description

Sir Ken Robinson’s "Changing Educational Paradigms" was much about what the title would imply, but I enjoyed his talk because of how poignantly it described a problem that most of us don’t even notice. He starts by describing a problem of every parent, a challenge to educate his or her children toward successful positions in […]

Posted On

01/28/13

Author

Jack Kessler

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Hi everybody. My name is Maddie. I’m 18 (turning 19 on course!), and I’m taking a year off before college. I’ve spent some of my year working around home (Nashville, TN), but last semester I traveled for 3 months in Nepal. This was my first real experience abroad, and I loved it so much that I changed my spring plans so that I could travel again. I can’t wait to explore the Andes and the Amazon with you guys.
As for myself, I’m pretty laid back and introverted, but I still enjoy others' company. I like to be active and explore the world around me, so if anyone ever feels like doing something or going somewhere during our free time, take me with you! I’m not doing this course for credit, but I do like to learn and be part of a discussion. I’m also exploring Buddhism after my time in Nepal. I like running, gaming, being outdoors, sight-seeing, eating ethnic foods, seeing movies, reading, and generally hanging out with people.
That’s all I got for now. Good luck packing and prepping everybody. I’ll see you soon!
Maddie Shankle

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Andes & Amazon "A" Semester, Spring 2013

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Intro

Maddie Shankle,Andes & Amazon "A" Semester, Spring 2013

Description

Hi everybody. My name is Maddie. I’m 18 (turning 19 on course!), and I’m taking a year off before college. I’ve spent some of my year working around home (Nashville, TN), but last semester I traveled for 3 months in Nepal. This was my first real experience abroad, and I loved it so much that […]

Posted On

01/26/13

Author

Maddie Shankle

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Hello everyone,

 

Thanks again for your question Lexi!  This really depends on your personal comfort level, but what you listed (3 sports bras and a few regular ones) sounds totally reasonable.  Keep in mind that we will be spending time in cities and homestays (4 weeks in Cochabamba) where you'll want to have some casual, non-hiking apparel.  For that reason we would suggest 2-3 regular bras (probably not more).  While our homestays in Cochabamba are rural, you may be going back and forth to the city for ISP meetings and excursions with your Spanish class. For this portion of the course it's a good idea to have some 'nicer' clothes that you're comfortable in - i.e. jeans, casual pants, and possibly a skirt or two for the girls (not above the knee).

 

I hope this helps!  Keep the introductions and questions coming, and don't forget about your pre-course assignment :)

 

See you soon,

 

the instructors 

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Andes & Amazon "A" Semester, Spring 2013

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Answer to Lexi’s question about undergarmets

the instructors,Andes & Amazon "A" Semester, Spring 2013

Description

Hello everyone,   Thanks again for your question Lexi!  This really depends on your personal comfort level, but what you listed (3 sports bras and a few regular ones) sounds totally reasonable.  Keep in mind that we will be spending time in cities and homestays (4 weeks in Cochabamba) where you’ll want to have some […]

Posted On

01/24/13

Author

the instructors

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Hello everyone!

 

My name is Margaret and I live in Palo Alto, California, a small city about 40 miles south of San Francisco.  Right now I am 18 years old, but I will be turning 19 a week before the program starts.  I am a gap year student and I have been looking forward to this for so many months; I know that this program will really make my gap year all the more fulfilling.  Dragons was recommended to me over the summer and after researching it, I knew pretty quickly that Andes & Amazon was the right one for me!

 

I am passionate about travel, and I cannot wait to experience the amazing places I have been reading so much about.  I am also extremely excited to meet all of you!  I love to go hiking all over the Bay Area with my family and our yellow lab Darcy, just last week we did a hike to the top of Windy Hill, which was cool because at the top you can see San Francisco in one direction, and clear views of the ocean in the other.  I am a huge music fan, baseball fan (Go Giants!) and I love working with children (I was a camp counselor over the summer, it was a blast).  One of my big goals for the semester is to become a better Spanish speaker.

 

See you all soon!

 

Margaret

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Andes & Amazon "A" Semester, Spring 2013

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Hello Everyone!

Margaret O'Leary,Andes & Amazon "A" Semester, Spring 2013

Description

Hello everyone!   My name is Margaret and I live in Palo Alto, California, a small city about 40 miles south of San Francisco.  Right now I am 18 years old, but I will be turning 19 a week before the program starts.  I am a gap year student and I have been looking forward […]

Posted On

01/23/13

Author

Margaret O'Leary

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Dear Dragons,

 

Welcome to our course.  Over the past few weeks we have been evaluating past courses, our own experience and expertise, and, most importantly, your passions and interests to design an itinerary for our upcoming semester together.  We encourage you to take some time to sit with this, pull out your CPM and guidebook and begin to familiarize yourselves with the spectacular places you will be getting to know in such a short time. 

 

We would also like to give you a bit of background on the way we design our courses.  While the places we visit are beautiful and deeply moving in themselves, the flow of our course is designed carefully and intentionally to create a progression of experiences.  In the first phase, known as Skill Acquisition, you will be learning important tools concerning how to be responsible travelers and taking ownership over your experience. During the Practicing phase, you will make use of these tools and engage on a deeper level with your surroundings.  During the final Expedition phase, students take on a more active role in the planning and implementation of course elements.  As we move through the course, the challenges will increase and your ownership of the experience and responsibility will increase in kind. Throughout the process, you will be guided by us, your instructors, and by the local people and landscapes. 

 

Furthermore, our Core Values of Awareness of Self, Global Citizenship, and Leadership and Skill Building will act as an undercurrent throughout the course, guiding us through the experience.  At each phase of the course you will find yourselves delving deeper into these themes.  And finally, as always with Dragons, the course will be flexible and spontaneous, allowing us to make changes depending on local conditions, group interests, and other things that may present themselves along the way.

 

Our excitement has been growing as we’ve put this together, and we can’t wait to share these wonderful places with each of you!  Presenting our Spring 2013 Andes & Amazon Group A tentative itinerary…

 

Andes & Amazon Semester:

Spring 2013, Group A 

Tracing Andean History from the Bolivian Highlands to Peru: Resource Issues, Indigenous Culture and Colonial History

 

 

SKILL BUILDING

 

Feb 10th – 14th: Orientation - Arrive to La Paz and begin orientation at a retreat outside of the city or in Cochabamba. We’ll have workshops on group dynamics, our goals and expectations for the semester, and tips for navigating the culture and places we visit, in addition to hikes and a market visit.

 

Feb 15th – 22rd:  Sucre and first trek - Known as the “white city” for its white-washed, colonial style buildings, Sucre is the judicial capital of Bolivia and a stunning city in the Chuquisaca region.  We will head out on our first trek in the Cordillera de los Frailes, backpacking through dinosaur footprints, giant craters, and Jal’qa Quechua communities that are known for their brilliantly imaginative weavings.

 

Feb 23rd – 25th:  Potosí – From Sucre we will travel to Potosí, site of the infamous Cerro Rico which single-handedly financed the Spanish Empire for centuries and contains one of the most tragic stories of abuse of indigenous cultures in the Americas. Today it is Bolivia’s poorest region and the still active mines give insight into resource extraction and environmental issues. Here we will partner with Connatsop, a union of child workers.

 

Feb 26th – March 2nd: Salar de Uyuni – Known as the world’s largest salt flat in addition to harboring the world’s largest reserve of lithium, the Salar de Uyuni is an ideal place for exploring natural resource issues while taking in the breathtaking beauty of the Salar and surrounding national park. 

 

 

PRACTICING

 

March 3rd – April 3rd: Cochabamba Homestays – Begin Cochabamba homestays, language study, development work and ISP projects in the countryside just outside this bustling city. Here we will have opportunities to begin building foundational skills and also dive into independent study themes, including weaving, Andean music, dance, politics, and cooking, among others. Our time here will be defined by 16-20 hours of Spanish study per week, work on accredited courses, and meetings with local actors and organizations.  During this month in Cochabamba we will have the opportunity to immerse ourselves in the local community and develop relationships with families and ISP mentors.  This period will also be highlighted by weekend excursions into the mountains and nearby communities.

 

Possible mid-course excursions:

·       Community visit and service project in Pocona in Valle Alto

·       Trip to Tarabuco for the famous Pujllay festival with traditional dancing, costumes and local instruments

·       Extended weekend trip to Toro Toro National Park for a trek through dramatic canyons, waterfalls, underground caves and dinosaur footprints.

 

April 4th – 12th:  Santa Cruz and Parque Amboró – from Cochabamba we will travel east to the lowland city of Santa Cruz, spending a couple of days in this city to explore lowland and Guaraní culture and issues around natural resource management.  From there we will travel to Parque Amboró, a semi-tropical national park, to trek through lowland forest and pristine rivers and waterfalls.

 

April 13th – 19th:  La Paz and Lake Titicaca - Heading back to La Paz we will spend several days in homestays in EL Alto while collaborating with Teatro Trono, a local theater group.  From there we will travel to sparkling Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world and the mythical birthplace of the sun.  On Isla del Sol we will participate in a traditional Aymara ceremony, visit Incan ruins, and hike across the island.

 

April 20th – 27th: Peruvian Amazon - from Cochabamba we will head overland to Peru, stopping off in the dazzling colonial city of Cusco.  From there we will descend through Manu National Park into the Peruvian Amazon, staying with Huachipaere and Macheguenga families in the community of Huacaria. 

 

EXPEDITION AND TRANSFERENCE

 

April 27th – May 7th: Peru Expedition – Back in Cusco we will begin the expedition phase of the course, to be largely determined by students.  Options include the spectacular Choquequirao trek to Machu Picchu, homestays in the agriculturally rich communities of Parque de la Papa, a visit to Nación Q’eros, and a traverse around the sacred peak of Ausangate, etc.  The expedition phase will be a time for the students to utilize all their newly honed skills as they organize and plan meaningful activities for the group.  

 

May 8th – 11th:  Transference – Head to a retreat center in Peru or Bolivia for course-end and transference.  Closing student-led activities.    

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Andes & Amazon "A" Semester, Spring 2013

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Presenting Group A’s Tentative Itinerary!

Julianne, Ben, Emy,Andes & Amazon "A" Semester, Spring 2013

Description

                                                                                                  Dear Dragons,   Welcome to our […]

Posted On

01/22/13

Author

Julianne, Ben, Emy

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The main issue that is presented in this video is the dramatic disappearance of cultural diversity and many of the world’s indigenous cultures as ancestral land is being lost and language dies. The video brings up the astounding statistic of nearly 50% of the previous 6,000 global languages no longer exist and are no longer being taught to children. There is a dramatic depletion of the worlds “ethnosphere” as well which Davis argues is as, if not more, important than preserving the worlds biosphere. “Ethnosphere” which he describes as “the sum total of all thoughts and dreams, myths, ideas, inspirations, intuitions brought into being by the human imagination since the dawn of consciousness.”  

My overall impression of this video was not only shock but also utter disgust in the complete disregard of these vanishing societies and how our modern society has masked the sad reality of this massive cultural depletion with a celebration of further developmental “progress”. I completely agree with the issues being raised by Wade Davis and find his proposal to preserve what is left of indigenous societies extremely important to preserving global diversity.

I believe that education is one of the most powerful weapons in protecting not only these “at-risk” societies but also in giving me the power to help promote a change. I would love to learn about, first hand, the struggles these societies endure and what they are doing to rise up and take a stand against the conformist power working against them. 

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Andes & Amazon "A" Semester, Spring 2013

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Response to Wade Davis Video

Callie Gustafson,Andes & Amazon "A" Semester, Spring 2013

Description

The main issue that is presented in this video is the dramatic disappearance of cultural diversity and many of the world’s indigenous cultures as ancestral land is being lost and language dies. The video brings up the astounding statistic of nearly 50% of the previous 6,000 global languages no longer exist and are no longer […]

Posted On

01/22/13

Author

Callie Gustafson

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Hi everybody!

Just want to say how excited I am to meet all of you and get to know you over our time together adventuring through Peru and Bolivia!

I was going to write two separate yaks, one to introduce myself and the other to share my thoughts about the pre-course assignment, but I realized that both posts are very much related. In Wade Davis's TED talk he discusses the loss of the enthnosphere, the cultural web of life that is the collective composition of thoughts, dreams, mythts, and imaginations of humanity. The worlds indigenous cultures, essential threads in this intricately woven and incredibly colorful web of reality, are being wiped away by the overwhelming power and domination of world forces that have forgotten how vital it is  to protect the diversity of the planet's cultural traditions and the deep wisdom embedded within the practice. The loss of half the planet's indigenous languages within a generation is a shocking indicator of how much we have lost already.Even with the most skilled translations, it is impossible to relay the spirit and soul of what is being said because language is more than a way of communicating needs and wants. It is an embodied expression of each culture's perception of reality.  

 

Upon first watching the talk I felt a lot of shame and rejection of the consumerist culture I was raised in. I felt embarassed that I come from the a worldview that sees the shamans and medicine men and women of the worlds indigenous population as "noble savages" and not as the healers, leaders, and stewards of the land who deserve the same level of respect given to scientists in labs and government politicians. 

The more I thought about the culture I was born into, the more I realized that it is much richer than what I had reduced it to. I was born and raised in New York in an upper middle class family and therefore have  the experience of a priveleged white American and an urban New Yorker.  But my worldview is also heavily influenced by my rich Jewish heritage. I was raised in an orthodox Jewish community where the myths and stories of the bible were very alive and played a huge role in my personal discovery and understanding of  where I came from and who I am today. Yiddish was always spoken in the communities where I was raised in and amongst my grandparents. Hearing and understanding bits and pieces  has infused my life with the stories told by my Eastern European ancestors. The year I  lived in Israel after high school has also emriched my worldview to include a plethora of different Middle Eastern traditions and mythologies. Now as a Naropa Univerity student, a lot of what  influences me are Buddhist teachings. 

Davis makes a point about the power of storytelling has to change the world. With the loss of indigenous languages, unique cosmological stories and consequently pieces of reality are being lost as well. This has really ispired me to think about what my story is and how will I tell it? How have my experiences shaped my reality? Where is my place within the enthnosphere?

I would like to continue expanding my worldview and keep developing my story, my reality  while in Bolivia and Peru. By being amongst the indigenous people of the Andes and the Amazon, as well as the non -indigenous peoples of Peru and Bolivia, my fellow trip participants and leaders,  I hope to open my mind and heart to other ways of thinking, seeing, and being in the world.

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Andes & Amazon "A" Semester, Spring 2013

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Hola!! / response to Wade Davis TED talk

Margot Solomon,Andes & Amazon "A" Semester, Spring 2013

Description

Hi everybody! Just want to say how excited I am to meet all of you and get to know you over our time together adventuring through Peru and Bolivia! I was going to write two separate yaks, one to introduce myself and the other to share my thoughts about the pre-course assignment, but I realized […]

Posted On

01/22/13

Author

Margot Solomon

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    [post_date] => 2013-01-21 00:00:00
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Hola!

 

My name is Eliza and I am really excited for the upcoming semester! I just turned 18 and I am a gap year student from Watertown Connecticut.  I spent the first semester of my year in Sevilla, Spain with a different program and, although I had a great semester, I am really excited to try something completely different.

 

I spend my summers in Vermont and the Adirondaks so I have learned to love the outdoors, but I have never done an extended trip like this one. I also "unplug" from computers and cellphones for a portion of my summer and I am excited to do that again on this trip!

I have done some travelling in central america (Guatemala, Panama and Mexico) although I have never been into South America. 

In high school I played soccer and ran track, but my focus was mostly on other things like academics, student government and yearbook. I have always been a generalist and am using this year to hopefully discover what I am really passionate about!

 

I can't wait to meet you all! See you soon!

 

Eliza

 

P.S I second Meg's bathing suit question :)

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Andes & Amazon "A" Semester, Spring 2013

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Hola!

Eliza Davis,Andes & Amazon "A" Semester, Spring 2013

Description

Hola!   My name is Eliza and I am really excited for the upcoming semester! I just turned 18 and I am a gap year student from Watertown Connecticut.  I spent the first semester of my year in Sevilla, Spain with a different program and, although I had a great semester, I am really excited […]

Posted On

01/21/13

Author

Eliza Davis

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Hey all! Thanks to the instructors for answering my gifts question :). 

 

This is a question for ladies only.. When you travel abroad with limited luggage, how many bras do you bring? The packing list gives no mention of how many bras to bring and since basically everyone here has travelled before, I figure you can help me.

 

I've got three sports bras and a few regular ones.  

I really don't like to wear dirty clothes, so I want to bring as many as is possible with an 85 Liter backpack.. 

What do you think? do I have enough? Any suggestions?

I'm excited to virtually meet you all (so far) and get to know you :)

 

Hasta pronto,

 Lexi  

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Andes & Amazon "A" Semester, Spring 2013

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Ladies only: undergarments question

Lexi Nowak,Andes & Amazon "A" Semester, Spring 2013

Description

Hey all! Thanks to the instructors for answering my gifts question :).    This is a question for ladies only.. When you travel abroad with limited luggage, how many bras do you bring? The packing list gives no mention of how many bras to bring and since basically everyone here has travelled before, I figure […]

Posted On

01/21/13

Author

Lexi Nowak

WP_Post Object
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  The main issues introduced in this text are governmental control, conflict between people living an indigenous vs westernized way of life, President Morales' preaching and his actual actions, and native vs. colonist rights. The bolivian government is planning to build a 190 mile highway that is going to split TIPNIS into two parts. TIPNIS is an acronym for Isiboro- secure indigenous territory and national park, a 3,860 square  mile preserve of pristine Amazon rainforest. The legal title to this preserve is held by Yuracare, Moxeno, and Chiman people, all indigenous people who have been in Bolivia for hundreds of years. The road will benefit Brazil and Bolivia through the increased product import/exportation it will promote, according to the government, as well as making travel in Bolivia less difficult. However, it will also result in mass deforestation and the extinction of several amazonian animals. The indigenous tribes will be affected directly by this deforestation and their way of life, as well as many of their homes will become obselete.

 

My first impression of this material was that it is a many sided , complicated issue. No one side is the 'right' side, no matter what anyone in power says. All perspectives must be examined in order for a just solution to be found. However , I do believe that one sides' argument had more logic in it. I immediately sympathized with the indigenous people as they own TIPNIS and will lose their way of life if it becomes a road. I was saddened to read that animals and plants would go extinct in order for more trade to take place between Brazil and Bolivia. It seems that development is valued higher than the environment in the eyes of the bolivian government.

 

I disagree completely and totally with the decison to build the road. Evo Morales' statement that " Anyone who is against the road is an enemy of Bolivia" is narrowminded: he leaves no room for dissimilar opinions. I thought Bolivia was a democracy, not a dictatorship!

 The environmental consequences of this decision should be seriously considered before Bolivia embarks on a multi-million dollar project that will forever change the landscape that so many people come to experience. 11 species vanishing should not be taken lightly: without those species, the steady supply of backpackers and hikers will not be present to generate income. 

Also a huge issue I have with this is that Indigenous people will lose homes and a way of life in order to make room for a more westernized Bolivia, while their tried and true lifestyle ( depending on the earth and treating it respectfully) will be destroyed.This feels so wrong to me. However, the colonists in the park , who have been asking for rights to live in the park as equals with the indigenous tribes, are overjoyed at this lastest decison of Morales. They demand more land and increased property rights, both of which the road will provide them. Apparently money buys rights, go figure.

 

It is very clear from the articles in the homework book that the president of Bolivia has a policy of saying one thing and doing another. He was elected because of his pregressive "socialist" views and his support of indigenous rights. However, since being elected to office, all of his policies have taken rights away   from the indigenous people he swore to protect: All in the name of globalization. It is no wonder that he has earned the nickname " Evil Morales". 

 

While In country, I would like to see the proposed road location and talk to some inhabitants of the park. If this is not possible, I would settle for a newspaper article or a video in which Morales explains his decision and the reasons behind it. I know I couldn't do much to help, and it would be dangerous to try, but I would just like to hear both sides of the story for myself. 

 

Over time these issues have changed significantly. According to a report written on January 13, 2013, Evo Morales and several indigenous groups have been in contact regarding the road.  The article stated that "On December 17, a 15-member commission representing the Catholic Church and the Permanent Assembly of Human Rights in Bolivia (APDHB), in association with the Inter-American Federation of Human Rights (FIDH), released the results of their recent survey in the TIPNIS." 30/ 36 communites visited voted no on the road, three accepted it, and three agreed if conditions for the road change. This is a far cry from what Evo Morales reported : he said that 80% of TIPNIS residents agreed to the road. He claims to have visited all 69 communities on the property, which is a complete lie!!   Morales  dismissed the consulta as not up to protocol and is completely ignoring the opinion of the the indigenous residents of the park and has stated that " The road will be built like it or not." 

The residents continue to stand up for their rights publically and hope that  the next gubernational election will bring some change. I hope it does! 

 

 

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Andes & Amazon "A" Semester, Spring 2013

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Response to NACLA TIPNIS Highway Article

Lexi Nowak,Andes & Amazon "A" Semester, Spring 2013

Description

  The main issues introduced in this text are governmental control, conflict between people living an indigenous vs westernized way of life, President Morales’ preaching and his actual actions, and native vs. colonist rights. The bolivian government is planning to build a 190 mile highway that is going to split TIPNIS into two parts. TIPNIS […]

Posted On

01/21/13

Author

Lexi Nowak

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